No. 3 Nebraska (12-1, 3-0) swept Northwestern (10-5, 0-3) behind a perfect outing from sophomore middle blocker Lauren Stivrins and a strong showing from sophomore opposite hitter Jazz Sweet.
Scores in Nebraska’s favor were 25-19, 25-12, 25-23. The match, Nebraska's first conference road game, took place at Evanston Township High School. Nebraska served up eight aces with just four errors and out-hit the Wildcats .265 to .143.
Stivrins converted all 10 of her swings into kills, becoming the third Husker to hit a perfect 1.000 with 10 or more kills. Sweet finished with a match-high 12 kills on .368 hitting and chipped in five blocks. The rest of the Huskers hit just .113 combined.
Freshman setter Nicklin Hames finished with 32 assists and a match-high 15 digs. Senior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke finished with 10 digs, eight kills and four aces.
Northwestern drew first blood but Nebraska scored the next four points including two kills by Sweet to take a lead it would not relinquish. Northwestern pulled within one at 7-6 but the Huskers scored three straight with kills by three different players to take a 10-6 lead.
Nebraska kept the lead bouncing between three and four until a 3-0 Northwestern run made it 14-13 but Nebraska responded with five straight with Hayley Densberger at the service line. A 3-0 run but Nebraska gave the Huskers their largest lead of the set at 22-15 and they cruised to the win from there.
Sweet led the Huskers with five kills in the first set and Hames nearly recorded a double-double with nine assists and eight digs.
Northwestern played from ahead early in the second set, but a 4-0 run served by Foecke gave the Huskers an 8-5 lead. The teams traded points for a while until Coach John Cook took a timeout after back-to-back Northwestern points made it 15-12.
After talking it over for a minute, the Huskers proceeded to steamroll the Wildcats, scoring the last 10 points of the match to take a 2-0 lead in the match. Foecke served the run that included three aces. Stivrins went 6-for-6 in the set including one on set point after converting her only attempt of the first set into a kill.
Through two sets, the Huskers held a .279 to .088 edge in hitting and Sweet led all players with eight kills.
Northwestern used a 5-0 run early in set three to take an 8-4 lead and the Wildcats kept the Huskers at arm’s length until a 6-1 run by Nebraska made it 13-12 Huskers. Northwestern countered with a 4-0 run to regain control and held at least a two-point cushion for the next several points.
It looked like Northwestern had pulled ahead 23-19 late, but a challenge by Cook proved successful to bring the Huskers back within two at 22-20. Ella Grbac put down her eighth kill to give the Wildcats a 23-20 lead, but Nebraska scored the final five points of the set to complete the sweep. Sweet ripped off two straight kills to get the run started and Lexi Sun gave the Huskers match-point with an ace. Sweet and Callie Schwarzenbach finished it off with a double-block.
Nebraska’s weekend on the road will continue Saturday night as the Huskers visit No. 7 Illinois (14-0, 3-0) for a showdown in Champaign. The Illini swept Iowa on Friday night. First serve between the Huskers and Illini is set for 7 p.m. on BTN.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.